July 2013


UPDATE: The Lady Weeds release hit on DC’s website, so I’ve added some information about her (and images) below. If you’re here for the first time today (or ever), then read on!

The Swamp Thing Annual hits in October.  Annuals are double-sized issues that come out once a year (more or less).  They’re a lot of fun, because they often allow the creators to dive into some story element a bit more deeply than they would otherwise be able to in a 20- or 22-page regular issue.

In the Swamp Thing Annual, I decided to delve  into the history of the Green (which refers to a sort of shared consciousness of all plant life on Earth) and the Parliament of Trees, specifically with respect to how it affects the life and ongoing tenure as the champion of the Green of Dr. Alec Holland, aka Swamp Thing, aka the main character of the book.

The Parliament of Trees is sort of an advisory body made up of previous champions (also known as Avatars), who hang around and give the current Avatar tips and tricks as needed based on their millennia-long collective memory.  One of the fun things about that concept is that it means you can tell stories from many different eras in history and still have them fit into the main thread.  I’m doing that in the Annual in spades.  At last count, eleven different Swamp Things make an appearance.

DC Comics is previewing the designs for a few of them on their “What’s New in the New 52” feature on their blog – we had one yesterday, the Burgher Thing, and another should debut today – Lady Weeds.  I thought it might be fun to give a bit of additional context to these images here, in case anyone’s curious.  First, Burgher Thing:

Burgher Thing, as designed by Jesus Saiz.

Burgher Thing, as designed by Jesus Saiz.

How about that design, eh?  The work is from the spectacular Jesus Saiz, who drew Swamp Thing 21 as well as the Villains Month issue with Anton Arcane, out in September. Thankfully, he’ll be doing much more work on the series going forward.  This fellow isn’t actually named Burgher Thing – that’s just a name I put into the script that sort of stuck around the office.  His actual name is something else that you’ll discover in the Annual.  I gave him the Burgher Thing title in the script because the character’s identity as a human was a burgher – a member of the German middle class in the 1600s.  They were mostly prosperous merchants – not nobility, but doing pretty well for themselves nonetheless.  There’s an even more specific reference – this dude is based on a particular figure from history – but I’ll let that come out via the book in October. (And, honestly, calling him Burgher Thing made me laugh.  I do that sort of thing a lot in my scripts – I called the Franciscan monk character from 21 the Monk Thing, for obvious reasons, and the Annual is packed with many more placeholder script names that may or may not ever see the light of day.)

This gentleman is Swamp Thing’s patron – he takes him under his wing to offer some very specific guidance in light of some challenges Swampy’s facing (of which you will hear more in Issue 24.)  He’s a bit self-serving and fairly pompous, but he’s very cool, and I think you’ll like him a lot once you see how he works in the story.

The second character to get a design from Jesus Saiz is the batshit Lady Weeds.  Check her out:

Lady Weeds, by Jesus Saiz.

Lady Weeds, by Jesus Saiz.

Looook behinnnd the veilllll....

Looook behinnnd the veilllll….

Lady Weeds is a Swamp Thing from the 1800s.  She’s named not so much for the fact that she’s made of plants (although that’s certainly a factor), but because she’s wearing what were known as “widow’s weeds,” clothes worn by women in mourning in those days.  Here’s a historically accurate version:

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Poor, sad Mrs. Kintner wore a variant on widow’s weeds after her boy Alex was chomped to death by a certain titular shark, too (such a bummer – the kid just wanted to splash around on a raft on a hot day – why won’t Sheriff Brody DO SOMETHING???):

I wanted you to know that.

I wanted you to know that.

 

Anyway, so that’s the deal with widow’s weeds. Why Lady Weeds wears them? Well, it seems like EVERYONE died back then. I don’t think a single person from those days is still alive today.  Lady Weeds undoubtedly has plenty of people to mourn… not least because she killed MANY, MANY of them.  Lady Weeds did horrible things.  Her character came out of an idea that not every Swamp Thing was necessarily heroic.  As long as they do their “job” of protecting plants, the Green doesn’t care how they use their powers, and Lady Weeds took that license to an extreme.  You’ll learn much more about who she is and what she did in the Annual, out this October.

Cool stuff coming up in Swamp Thing! It’s the era-spanning weird epic I’ve always dreamed of writing, and I’m so glad you guys are along for the ride.

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As I’ve talked about incessantly on this blog, my new ongoing series from Oni Press, with art from Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque, colors by Guy Major and letters from Shawn DePasquale, will debut in San Diego this weekend with a special con exclusive black and white variant edition of Issue 1.  The in-store version won’t hit until October, so this is a chance for a very early sneak peek at a series I’m very proud of, and that I hope will run for a good long while.  It all begins here.

Here’s the solicitation text for #1, which is in Previews now (so you can ask your retailer to stock it!): There’s something up there. As newly elected President Stephen Blades reads the letter left for him in the Oval Office by his predecessor, he learns this stunning secret: seven years earlier, NASA discovered an alien construction project in the asteroid belt. A crew of heroic astronauts was sent to investigate, and they’re nearing the conclusion of their epic journey. Don’t miss the first chapter in this thrilling tale of real-world space travel, intrigue, and secret histories!

A few pages of the SDCC exclusive have leaked out, so I feel comfortable sharing – check it out:

The cover for the con exclusive variant!

The cover for the con exclusive variant!

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A page from inside the issue!

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And the page right after the last one!

More to come.  SO MUCH MORE TO COME.  However, not every shop carries indie books, even ones from awesome publishers like Oni, so if you want it, make sure to ask your retailer to carry it – otherwise you might miss the beginning of the ride!)

(See you in San Diego, some of you!)

Interesting month!

My first issues of Red Lanterns (#21) and Thunderbolts (#12) hit the shelves, along with another installment of Swamp Thing (#22).  My first opportunity to write Batman, a three-part Legends of the Dark Knight story called “Riddler in the Dark” went live over on Comixology, and I couldn’t help but notice tons of commentary on the Superman / Wonder Woman title I’m writing now (first issue hits in October), both negative and positive.

I’ve been tempted to jump into the fray a bit beyond my last blog post, but I decided that the best course of action would simply be to let the book speak for itself in October.  Anything else is just an expenditure of time and energy that I’d rather put other places.  Both of those are very limited for me right now, and they’re both a zero sum game.

So, on to more interesting topics (at least to me) – my schedule for San Diego Comicon 2013! For many reasons, I expect this to be the most action-packed SDCC I’ve ever had, and I’m really looking forward to it.  I’m sure it’ll be exhausting, but hey, it’s the big show.  If you aren’t bone-weary when it’s over, you probably didn’t do it right.

The biggest note is that my fall ongoing series from Oni Press, Letter 44, will have a black and white preview version of Issue 1 available at the show.  I’m not sure how available it will be, but hey, the hunt is part of the fun, right?  It’s your chance to check out what I honestly think is the best thing I’ve ever done many months in advance (the series doesn’t actually begin until October.)  Beyond that, my latest OGN Strange Attractors will be at the Archaia / Boom booth, so make sure you check that out, if you haven’t already.  I’ll happily sign anything you put in front of me.  Anything.

Here’s my schedule so far – I expect it to change as we get closer to the show, but I’ll update the post accordingly if that happens:

Thursday, July 18

(My birthday! I’ve heard tales of birthdays celebrated at San Diego, and if I’m incoherent and/or not present for the rest of the con, you’ll know that those tales are true.)

4-5 PM – signing at the Archaia booth

6-7 PM – signing at the DC booth

Friday, July 19

10-11 AM – signing at the DC booth.

11-12 AM – Writers Unite Panel, which is a comics writing tips and tricks panel I’ve done a bunch of times in the past at different cons around the country.  It’s always a blast, and we focus on not just tips for getting your stories done and making them good, but also ideas about how to break into the industry.  The panel always includes some of the best new(ish) writers in comics (myself excepted – I just happen to be pals with the moderator), and this year follows in that tradition and then some.  The panel will be run by Jim Zub (Skullkickers, Pathfinder), and the other writers besides me are Rob Venditti (Green Lantern, Surrogates) and Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, tons of DC stuff).  If you’re a writer, or want to be one, this is WORTH YOUR TIME.

Also in this window, just towards the end, I’ll be popping into the Oni Press panel, which will include a serious first look at Letter 44. I’m told you might have a chance to score a special variant edition of the first issue, which won’t be out until October!

3-4 PM – signing at the Marvel booth. Bring your Thunderbolts issues and I’ll deface them for you!

4-5 PM – Signing at the Oni Press booth – if you don’t make it to the panel, come to the Oni booth to get your advance copy of Letter 44 #1, a San Diego Comicon exclusive!

5:30 – 6:30 PM – DC New 52 Panel (Room 6DE) – we’ll talk about all the exciting stuff coming up in the New 52.  Always illuminating and entertaining.

Saturday, July 20

11 AM – 12 PM – signing at the Archaia booth! You can get my latest OGN Strange Attractors here, inscribed with a special message from yours truly (which will probably just be my name, but hey, that’s something.)

12:30-1:30 PM – Green Lantern – Recharged! (Room 6DE) – panel discussion about the new creative teams and direction for the various GL titles.  I’ll be there, I’m sure Rob Venditti will be there, and I would guess we’ll see some of the other GL writers and artists as well.

1:45 – 2:45 – Infinity / Avengers Panel – the Thunderbolts title I’m writing ties into Marvel’s big summer Infinity event, and here’s where you’ll get to hear more about both the event and the individual titles related to it.

4-6 PM – signing at the Oni booth! Your last chance to get a signed con exclusive Letter 44 #1!

Sunday, July 21

I leave around mid-day on Sunday, so I probably won’t be doing any signings or panels, but I’ll be with you all in spirit, as you stagger around the show floor, trying to squeeze that last little magic out of the convention before bidding adieu until next year.

Next con for me past SDCC will be Baltimore in September, and then NYCC, and then that’s pretty much it for the year.  While I love the cons, I love writing too.